To Discover Nature Through Art and Art Through Nature

Jan Van Boeckel

Jan Van Boeckel

10:37am Jul 7

Here is a wonderful Norwegian book entitled by Jan-Erik Sørenstuen e provides compelling insights into discovering nature through art, and art through nature. The PDF of the English translation, entitled 'Dancing Flowers, can be downloaded here:  Here is my review of this inspiring book:

'Dancing Flowers: To Discover Nature Through Art and Art Through Nature' by Jan-Erik Sorenstuen is a lavishly illustrated text, elaborately documented text that addresses the current, crucial, and urgent challenge of the contemporary era. Its fundamental thesis confirms the claim by the renowned eco-philosopher, Arne Næss, that through spiritual and psychological development humans can recoup the intimate identification with other humans, animals, plants and ecosystems that our ancestors once enjoyed. Sorenstuen goes further. He introduces a methodology to activate this process.

We humans sacrificed our intimate and self-empowering knowledge of our environment when we became infatuated with electronic technologies and dependent on commercial products. For this reason, Sorenstuen declares, it is now necessary for educators to teach lessons and insights that were once absorbed through the osmosis of daily life practice. The lesson involves developing self and social perceptions of humans as components of complex living systems.

Dancing Flowers directs this effort to today’s youth. The fate of our species may depend upon their ability to develop an informed and respectful connection with the ecosystems upon which life on Earth depends. The book describes its mission in terms of avoidance: “ensuring that young people do not become numbed by apathy”. It then explains its strategies in positive terms: “We must now bring forth a constructive and creative focus upon nature. This can be achieved by strengthening perceptual skills, awakening the aesthetic senses whereby creativity is developed through a “green approach” to art, culture and creation in our natural environment.”

Interspersing the instructive text with anecdotes, examples of student artworks, and examples of works by established eco-artists makes this daunting task less intimidating. While focused on Nordic eco-art pedagogical experiments and its inspired educators, the book seems essential for educators world-wide.

Linda Weintraub, November 2009